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Chef with food allergy

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Got a problem. I've been cooking for a number of years and never had a problem with food allergies, until recently. Does anyone know of a person that was still able to cook professionally with a food allergy. I'm not allergic to wheat or Diary. I was tested and found I'm now allergic to fish, and nuts. Does that bite or what?? I'm up for a new job and now saddled with this..

Anyone have any other suggestions besides finding a new line of work? lol...
post #2 of 26
Just how far does that allergy go? You can't be near them, touch them, taste them, what?

I have a problem with the liquor from shellfish and any 'juices' from shrimp. It creates bumps on my skin (especially in the web between the thumb and finger) and causes and acid-like burning feeling. I latex wear gloves and I'm okay.

Ciao,
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Order In/Food Out ~ It's NOT magic.
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"It's not getting any smarter out there. You have to come to terms with stupidity, and make it work for you." Frank Zappa
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post #3 of 26
delegate.:lol:
seriously. i worked for many years with my numerous allergies, using double gloves to cut the fish and having other people peel the shrimp - they really didn't like it if i had to make an ambulance run in the middle of the shift, as i couldn't breathe.
it was the gluten intolerance that finally forced me out of the kitchen, though. i didn't know what was wrong with me for 16 yrs. drs. always thought i was a hypochondriac, until i proved to them by a simple vitamin defiency test that i was celiac.( i would highly recommend you get re-tested for wheat this way, or try taking the gluten out of your diet for 2 weeks to see if you feel any different) ( sometimes if you have one of the big 8 allergies, the wheat goes along with them.).
kathee
post #4 of 26
A sous chef I worked under was allergic to nuts -- which meant that he could not taste anything we sauteed since we used peanut oil. It meant he had to trust us to season properly --but since we had all be taught to do so, we did.
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #5 of 26
We finally nailed it down that it was nuts I was allergic to about 9-10 years ago. 1st it was just walnuts, then walnuts and pecans, now it's about all of them -- luckily, I can control the cooking oils in our kitchen! I can't cut or handle them in any way without double gloving...so someone else has to do a final taste test...

also if you ever end up handling some of those pre-made cookie doughs for whatever reason, a lot of the "deluxe" or "premium" versions also have nut flours in them even if they are oatmeal raisin or chocolate chunk. Ditto for a lot of graham cracker crusts.

(a by the way hint: at home-a lot of those furniture polishes have nut oils in them!)

I was on a med for 2 years that I couldn't eat seafood with - it sucks when your health meesses with your career. Fish you should know the basics of seasoning from your previous life, and are going to have to trust someone else to adjust final seasoning there too...

the new job - it really depends on what type of position it is, what type of cooking it is,

Good luck!

Lynne
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Sweet Dreams!!
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post #6 of 26
While your allergies might present some obstacles, I don't think any of them are insurmountable. You can work around these allergies by wearing gloves, not tasting certain foods, etc. Just make sure you know the seriousness of your allergies. There is a big difference between an allergy that causes some discomfort and one that is life threatening.
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http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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post #7 of 26
Yes I agree but to add I think that the others you are working with should know what you are allergic to and how seriously you are allergic to them. I like to treat any allergy as serious to begin with just in case.
post #8 of 26
Thread Starter 

allergies..

Thanks folks, I appreciated the words of wisdom. I've eaten fish (White, Salmon, Whatever) and my throat starts to itch, but doesn't close up. Its very wierd. I went to an allergist, and was told I was allergic to nuts, not shellfish, but fish. I can handle fish really without much of a problem, though when slicing it i always use gloves anyways, for sanitation concerns.

Well, the Stage is at the Napa Rose in Disneyland, so everyone wish me luck.

Oh, I'm not allergic to wheat or gluten, thank god. Or at least not at the moment anyways.
post #9 of 26
be careful with eating the fish - the allergic responses seem to get stronger every time. anaphlaxis is not fun, especially when you get that nice shot of ephinephrine that makes your heart go boom didi boom didi boom in a rather rapid pattern.:lips:
kathee
post #10 of 26
I havent been working in kitchens for a long time but I knew going into this that I was allergic to fish. I have the same type of symptoms scratchy throat and sometimes hives. One day in class a fellow student really smoked up the kitchen grilling some salmon..and I breathed in quite a bit of smoke...the fishy kitchen smoke gave me an allergic reaction...basicly an asthma attack..I had to sit outside for about 20 min...because I couldnt breath lucky that it was a slow time during lunch service(school has a functioning resturant).

This is the first time I have had that type of reaction but I guess not eating fish myself I havent really been exposed to the smoke either. So basicly when some one is grilling salmon or sea bass(for some reason not as bad) I step out...this hasnt been a problem for me as I am just a student...I can see how it could become one. I have also had this same asthma attack reaction from breathing steam out of the dishwasher when someone put a sheet pan with gobs of baked on fishy goodness in there without a proper scrub.

For an exam for one class, we had to do cajun blackened catfish....wich was rough...but I didnt have to leave class(15 students all cajun blackening at the same time.) so I thing its some fish and not others....I'm also not allergic to tuna...even weirder!

I have seen an allergist/immunotheripist and basicly they can make you(in most cases) not allergic to almost anything thru the use of immunotherpy injections...so if I want to I could bring him a sample of fish that I want to eat...and he would inject with small doses over long periods of time and in 2-5 years I could eat salmon. I think if I got a job where there was salmon on the menu I would go get some type of inhaler and investigate other options to prevent it. I have done that treatment for other types of allergys(cats, dust, mold) and it worked very well.
post #11 of 26

It all depends on the allergy and how you are handling the allergen. While I was in culinary school I had a short period where I was reacting to tree nuts. I was able to function just fine in my classes because I just avoided items we baked with nuts or my chefs let me leave them out, but I did have to quit a job in a chocolate/fudge factory I was working in because I left work several times in one week having severe asthma attacks because I spent all day working with nuts. 

 

For me it was being around/working with mass quantities that triggered reactions in me. It's been over a year since I've reacted to anything though and I use small quantities of nuts on a daily basis at work and can even eat anything we make, but I am still very cautious about consuming them.... I had walnuts for the first time in over a year and was fine, but it took a lot for me to risk eating them.

post #12 of 26

I am allergic to eggs and while I can handle them I cannot ingest them.  If I do I am doing the porcelain bus thing for at least 24-48 hours nonstop  until every last bit of it is out of me and then I am done for for at least a day or two while I recover from that.  Very not fun and I go to great lengths to ensure that does not happen at all. 

 

I wash my hands kinda like Mr  Monk did in the show and well his ocd pretty much is me and staying away from eggs.  I have had to leave the line twice because of the smell of eggs (that sends me into a reaction as well) but now everyone knows to keep me far away from steaming eggs so things are good. 

 

If I need to have something tasted that has eggs in it I ask someone else to taste it for me and then I adjust seasonings with their input. Stinks I know but at least I am safe. 

OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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post #13 of 26


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by katbalou View Post

be careful with eating the fish - the allergic responses seem to get stronger every time. anaphlaxis is not fun, especially when you get that nice shot of ephinephrine that makes your heart go boom didi boom didi boom in a rather rapid pattern.:lips:
kathee


Yup. Exactly what happened to me but with shellfish. I never really noticed problems eating shellfish then when I was 14 I had an anaphylactic reaction. It hasn't caused me too many problems. I don't have an issue with touching shellfish, just ingesting it. Luckily the restaurant I work in now doesn't serve any type of shellfish. We had a clam chowder on the menu, but I convinced the owner to replace it with a different soup (it sucked (I was told by a few customers) and was not a good seller anyway). Previous restaurants I worked at didn't have issues with it. I just didn't taste those dishes.

post #14 of 26

I'm lactose intolerant, allergic to apples, almonds. My biggest allergy is Lobster. Last time I cooked lobster was NY Eve 2000, table d'hote menu. My eyes were itchy and raw all night long... by the end of the night, both eyes were black. Looked like I'd been punched in the nose.

 

Since then, I simply refuse to cook it, and since I've become "the boss", it's just not on my menu :)  It's good to be the king. :D

 

post #15 of 26

As you get older your allergies get progressivly worse.I was always allergic to fresh pineapple but with gloves I could tolerate them,  now I am older and cant even handle the aroma in an indoor area.. I start to wheeze and sneeze. As we age our immune system like everything else gets weaker and less resistant.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suzanne View Post

A sous chef I worked under was allergic to nuts -- which meant that he could not taste anything we sauteed since we used peanut oil. It meant he had to trust us to season properly --but since we had all be taught to do so, we did.


I'm a chef that has developed - in the last 1 years - an allergy/intolerance to the allium family. The whole family: Mom, Dad, little Johnny, cousin Alice. Nothing personal, really.

post #17 of 26

Often people with allergies to shellfish find that it is the iodine that they are actually allergic to.

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post #18 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth View Post

Often people with allergies to shellfish find that it is the iodine that they are actually allergic to.



These people must be extremely careful, as consumption could send them to hospital and if not treate could even kill. It reacts by causing one not being able to breath.

 

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #19 of 26

Ed,

It's such a fun time, though. Really love the ephinephrine(sp?), gets your heart pumping.   wink.gif

kathee

post #20 of 26

I'm allergic to shellfish and latex (vinyl gloves for me :) but fortunately have been able to manage it with gloves and benadril so far...i just try to avoid contact whenever possible and keep preparations simple enough that i know they're good without needing to taste; prapare something i can just add the shellfish to at the end and have tasted up to that point (this was my strategy in culinary school); or get help with the seasoning by emplying tasters and being specific enough in my questions to keep me happy. It is a pain in the butt...but by no means insurmountable.

post #21 of 26

Some thing some of you guys should try is "pig whip worm". Recent trials showed amasing results in allergy sufferers. The theory is that our immune system is like a giant coiled spring ready to attack infection, worms, parasites etc.  With all the clean living that we do it's under utalised and as a result confuses normal things as some thing it needs to defend the body against. 

 

Ingest the whip worm tablets, naturally the body goes to war on the nasty little buggers and it forgets about the other things (allergens) and you are able to live in peace. Obviously it won't work for every one as we are all different and our bodies metabolise compounds at different rates. Whip worm die naturally because we are obviously not pigs and they can continue their breeding cycle, so be aware that you may need to continue the treatment. The body has also been exposed to another allergen which also means that the immune system can justify it's 'attack first and think later' mechanisms so again be aware of your choices.

 

Also it is a scientific fact that allergy sufferers are not able to collect all their nutrition from food, so eating the right foods alone simply doesn't cut it. For some reason (science still don't know why) allergy sufferers must top up with a multivitamin every day to have a lesser (allergic) reaction as well as boost energy levels to match our fellow man. The results are also not immediate, it generally takes 3 - 6 weeks before you notice energy levels rise. Half the allergy sufferers say I'm fine but then take the vitamins only to realise that they discover much more energy, the other half understand why they have been low on energy for so long.

 

Another thing most people don't realise is that allergy comes in many different forms, skin rashes, blemishes, spots, swelling, sneezing etc are all commonly understood symptoms, but infection, bad breath, nausea, migrane blurred vision and even cancer are the result of allergy.

 

 

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post #22 of 26

I wish you the best of luck in your stage, but I gotta be straight up with you and the reality of your situation.  Not a lot of chefs are going to put up with or deal with this problem when there are so many people out there looking for work right now, they have enough on their plate usually to make it a very difficult job and when the covers start dropping like in the last two years it only get's worse.  You may do better trying to get in the side of the food industry that deals with food allergies like a company that produces food geared toward that.

Anyway, hope it works out for you, by saying that you are doing a stage I assume you are young and just coming into this industry as a choice so you have options, lucky this didn't happen mid life.

 

post #23 of 26

I have some "random" seafood allergies...I can't have lobster, crawfish, crab (unless it's canned and pastuerized); no tilapia but catfish is fine, no salmon, no seabass, no snapper. I can eat octopus, eel, monkfish, tuna, sometimes sword, grouper, halibut, oysters (raw and cooked), mussels, clams. It's wierd and annoying. Luckily with the exception of softshell crabs, I don't care for the seafood I'm allergic to. 

I found out the hard way that I was allergic to lobster. Christmas Eve at my wife's family dinner, I started swelling up after eating fresh main lobster  which was a Christmas Eve tradition in her family from Upstate New York. It was funny because the neighbor brought over some home brewed beer and her mother thought my reaction was from the beer...I'm so glad it wasn't the beer :)

So when I went to culinary school and I was in my Seafood class, I asked my chef instructor what I should do about this, he told me to keep benedryl in my knife kit, so far this has worked but I still don't taste these items, I sort of trained myself to use my sense of smell to "taste" for me when it comes my allergians.

post #24 of 26

 

I was watching a special edition of Throwdown with Bobby Flay, and he was challenging the team of Rao's Las Vegas restaurant to some multi-course traditional Italian meal.  Anyways, the head chef of that restaurant, Carla Pellegrino, had a severe seafood allergies, and couldn't taste any of the dishes that had squid or shrimp in them.  Anyways, she seemed like a great chef working at a high level in a type of cuisine that has a fair amount of seafood in it - the lesson I took from that, if cooking is what you want to do, just be creative and persistent, and find solutions to whatever obstacles come your way.  I'm sure for every problem there is an amazing chef somewhere who has overcome worse.

 

Best of luck to you, hope everything works out.

 

post #25 of 26

I work in a small white table cloth restaurant and we use ALOT of fish, but I am also allergic to fish. The best thing I can say is to just be confident in what you are doing and what ingredients you are using. I do depend on my servers and sous chef to inform me if something isnt quite right but most of the time I feel I do pretty well. We all know what goes well with fish and as long as you can still cook with it properly it shouldnt have too much of an issue. The way I look at it is its another challenge for me to work with and to conquer. Good Luck

post #26 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by kayaspop View Post

Got a problem. I've been cooking for a number of years and never had a problem with food allergies, until recently. Does anyone know of a person that was still able to cook professionally with a food allergy. I'm not allergic to wheat or Diary. I was tested and found I'm now allergic to fish, and nuts. Does that bite or what?? I'm up for a new job and now saddled with this.. Anyone have any other suggestions besides finding a new line of work? lol...


You may want to talk to your doctor and get one of those self administering allergy pens.  Something goes south on you and you pop an injection into your leg and don't meet the widow maker.

 

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